Baddies That Need Movie Love: Ventriloquist & Scarface
Installment number 6 of "Baddies That Need Movie Love" takes us back to the world of Batman and Gotham City and we get a two-for-one special with the Ventriloquist and his alter ego Scarface.
We are headed back to the world of Batman in the latest installment of "Baddies That Need Movie Love" and I'm highlighting a character- or two, that at first glance may have you questioning my sanity. But that's not unusual for a comic book fan right? RIGHT?!
Last summer, when Christopher Nolan and Warner Brothers finally made a third Batman film official, the speculations began as to who would be taking on the Batman. Many hoped he would be facing a more physical threat, compared to the intellectual baddies he'd faced int he previous two films and fans were rewarded with Bane as that threat. But amid the myriad foes that Batman has faced over the years, and the many baddies that were suggested for the part, there was one villain (actually two, but I've already done an article on Solomon Grundy) who stood out to me: Ventriloquist and Scarface.
As always, before I get into the why, let me talk about the who. The Ventriloquist, Arnold Wesker, first appeared in Detective Comics #583 in 1988 and is the creation of Alan Grant, John Wagner and Norm Breyfogle. Arnold is a shy, quiet man who plans his criminal acts and crimes via a dummy names Scarface, who is modeled after a Capone-era gangster- pin-striped suit, Tommy gun and all. Wesker was born into a MAfia family and after seeing his mother murdered by a rival family, Wesker developed Dissociative Identity Disorder. There is also an alternate origin story for the character where Wesker is jailed after a bar fight, in which he killed someone in a wild fit of anger. While in the Blackgate Penitentiary, he is introduced to "Woody," a dummy carved from the old gallows by his cell mate Donnegan. Woody convinces Wesker to off Donnegan and escape. In the tussle, Woody is scarred, which lead to him using the name Scarface.
The shy Wesker always lets Scarface handle the dirty work and is constantly being bossed around by the mini-mobster. Wesker is not able to pronounce the letter "B" while throwing his voice, so he replaces it with the letter "G" (Batman becomes Gatman). Wesker's "issues" were highlighted in Knightfall, where Scarface winds up missing and Wesker replaces him with Socko, a sock. Towards the end of the story, once Scarface is located, a stand off between Socko and Scarface occurs in which the two puppets shoot each other. This leaves Wesker unconscious and bleeding from his two wounded hands.
That last story is one of the reasons why I'd like to see this duo on screen. Ventriloquist and Scarface, with the right script, actor and director could be a very creepy and menacing villain for Batman to take on. The concept behind this character could easily fit in with the "Nolan-verse" and the gangster stories that have been featured in both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. The previously mentioned story shows how sadistic the character can be, despite his rather innocent looks. He could easily be placed in a role of power and hidden leadership; the mastermind behind the gangs and mafia families in Gotham.
One of the things I enjoyed most about Batman Begins was the use of villains that were not mainstream (to the general public). Using a character like the Ventriloquist/Scarface would add that same effect. Toss in the insanity factor tot he equation, taking Ledger's Joker up a notch essentially, and you could have a very intriguing villain.
To portray a character like this, you need someone who is able to pull off playing two completely different people in the same film. It's been tried before and it takes a damn fine actor to do it. I've seen several actors suggeted for this character, including the always great Steve Buscemi and comedian Colin Mochrie. I enjoy Buscemi as an actor, but I can't get behind him for this role. However, the actor I'd like to see take this part on has played a variety of roles including an over-protective priest/father, an alien visiting Earth andthe sadistic Trinity Killer. John Lithgow is among the top actors in Hollywood, taking on a huge array of characters and owning every single one of them. He can be funny, dark and creep all in the same scene. There is no doubt in my mind that Lithgow could take on a role like Arnold Wesker and pull it off flawlessly.
Be sure to check out the past installments of "Baddies that Need Movie Love:"
Black Tom Cassidy
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